10 questions with three super shoppers

3 seasoned Black Friday pros share their stories, best advice for scoring that deal

Shoppers will fill local malls and stores this week for two days of deals and specials.

Many retailers will offer extended hours and sales on Thursday, Nov. 22, which some call Black Thursday — and Friday, Nov. 23, Black Friday.

We asked seasoned shoppers throughout the region who have decades of Black Friday experience to share their shopping traditions and tips to help you make the most of your shopping experience.

Q: Will you shop on Black Thursday or Black Friday this year?

  • Jessica Crawford, Springfield: “Both, starting on Thursday and finishing on Friday.”
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    Luann Scott, Beavercreeek: “Probably both.”

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    Ivy Jo Ambos, Tipp City: “This year, I will be shopping on both Black Thursday and Black Friday.”

Q: What time are you planning to start shopping?

  • Crawford: “Getting in line between 6 to 7 p.m. (Thursday), with sales starting at 8 p.m.”
  • Scott: “After I preview the ads, I will determine what time to start depending on what I want to buy and what time that store will open.”
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    Ambos: “Since the best deals for the items I want start at 8 p.m. on Black Thursday, we will get in line by 5 p.m.”

Q: Where will you get coffee and breakfast on Black Friday?

  • Crawford: “Speedway for coffee and Steak ‘N Shake for breakfast.”
  • Scott: “I don’t drink coffee or eat donuts but will probably have a yogurt or some walnuts before I leave home.”
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    Ambos: “To make sure that we stay awake, our coffee stop will be at Starbucks.”

Q: Who are you shopping with?

  • Crawford: “I will be shopping with my cousins and aunt.”
  • Scott: “This year as in the past, I will be shopping with my best friend who is my sister.”
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    Ambos: “I will be shopping with my mom, my two sisters and my niece. Still waiting to hear if my sister-in-law will be going with us also.”

Q: What’s on your shopping list?

  • Crawford: “PS3, a bike, video games and controllers, movies, and whatever good deal I come across.”
  • Scott: “Santa never tells what he is giving out for Christmas, so I will do the same.”
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    Ambos: “I usually shop for electronics, clothes and gift cards.”

Q: When did you start making a plan for shopping this year?

  • Crawford: “Last week when the Wal-Mart ad was released.”
  • Scott: “I have been reading Black Thursday and Friday ads for two weeks now.”
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    Ambos: “Two to three weeks prior to Thanksgiving, I start looking for retailers to post their ads online so I can identify the best deals.”

  • Crawford: “2000”
  • Scott: “1976, after the girls in the office told me how good the sales are and how much fun you can have.”
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    Ambos: “My mom, sisters and I started the tradition of shopping on Black Friday about 10 years ago.”

Q: What is the best deal you’ve ever found on Black Thursday or Black Friday?

  • Crawford: “A 32-inch flat screen TV for $200 and an Xbox 360 with an extra hard drive and controller for $150 from Circuit City”
  • Scott: “I bought my husband a telescope for $70 that was originally priced at $250, and I received a $10 credit for a future purchase from that store.”
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    Ambos: “The best deal that I found was an iPod for $150 which included an iTunes card for $50. When the associate went to ring up the iPod with the card, the system to activate the iTunes card went down, so the manager decided to give us an additional $50 off the price of the iPod in place of the gift card.”

Q: What is the longest amount of time you’ve ever stood in line on Black Thursday or Black Friday?

  • Crawford: “Two hours for a TV. That’s a long time sitting on the floor in Wal-Mart’s freezer section.”
  • Scott: “If the line looks like it will take me more than 15 minutes to get through, I usually look for another shorter line or decide if what I am going to buy is worth waiting that long for. Last year, I grabbed a present, went to get in line, and people were lined up to the back of the store. … I thought about it for a few seconds and put the present back and left to go to the next store.”
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    Ambos: “The longest amount of time that I have stood in line was about three and half hours. The first year retailers started having sales on Thanksgiving, the items I wanted started at midnight, but the next sale wasn’t until 4 a.m. So, I sat in an aisle with lots of other people waiting for the next item to go on sale.”

Q: Do you have any Black Thursday or Black Friday traditions with family or friends?

  • Crawford: “Yes, we used to have an annual sleepover when the stores opened at 4 a.m., but now since there is no time for sleep, we just all go together. We start planning after Thanksgiving dinner.”
  • Scott: “The first few years, I went by myself, which was really quick because you can get in and get out of the stores fast. But then my mom, dad and sister started going, too, and it was much more fun. It slowed things down, but we have plenty of good memories over the years and crazy things that have happened, such as my dad falling asleep in the shoe department at Elder-Beerman and the years that Lazarus gave out Lazzie Bears and ornaments to the first 100 people to come in the store.”
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    Ambos: “Spending time with my mom and sisters on Black Friday has become a special tradition that I look forward to every year.”

Q: What is your advice for other Black Thursday and Black Friday shoppers?

Crawford:

  • “Go with a group so you have help.”
  • “Split up once in the store so you all can get what you need.”
  • “Have someone stand in line while you are shopping so your wait time isn’t as long.”
  • “Take your own big shopping bags for the stores that run out of carts.”
  • “Ask … store personnel where something is instead of walking around looking for it.”

Scott:

  • “Read the ads in advance. Some of them have been out for a few weeks, so you can review … them and ask family or friends if there is anything they want for Christmas. Check out this website where you can register to get the ads as they come out: blackfriday.com. The other ads will be in the Thanksgiving Day newspaper.”
  • “Eat something before you leave home. Now that the shopping hours have changed, you might be going out late at night and get hungry. You don’t want to spend time looking for a place to eat, especially in the dark.”
  • “Plan on how you are going to pay and keep your money, checks or credit cards in a safe place on you. There are lots of people out of work now, and lots of theft has been reported.”
  • “Get plenty of rest the night before, and have fun. Once you start going, you will look forward to it every year. Just think how much money you can save by going to the Black Thursday or Friday sales.”

Ambos:

  • “Get in line early.”
  • “Know which stores you want to go to prior to going out, and know what items you want to get from each store.”
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    “Some retailers will match prices of other retailers, so keep all of the ads with you which helps from missing other good buys.”

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    “Be nice. If you miss out on an item, keep watching the ads in the weeks to follow. More than likely, it will go on sale again.”

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